'Could ya tell Luke, is that who you could tell?'
Bonnie had dozed off during Return of the Jedi. Buzz was standing on the back of the couch where she had put him to make sure Darth Vader couldn't sneak up on her. He had a clear view of Woody and Jessie sitting together, their long legs crisscrossing each other's in front of them. Buzz wished he were with them. He could almost feel himself lost in a jumble of their soft limbs. But it wasn't their fault Buzz was excluded — that was where Bonnie had put them.
Something about these movies made Buzz uncomfortable. He'd seen them quite a few times with Andy as well. It was the space travel, he supposed, the good verses evil stories — they triggered something in the back of his mind, like little sparks. Emotions and physical sensations from his lingering false memories of his days as a Space Ranger. They were unsettling and he could have used the feelings of stability that he got from physical contact with Woody and Jessie.
Jessie whispered something into Woody's ear. Woody shifted a little closer, leaning into her. Buzz felt a pang of confused jealousy and possessiveness. He knew Woody and Jessie needed comfort too, after the losses of Andy and Bo, but he wanted to be part of it.
Trixie stirred slightly. "Han, go tell Luke you love him!" she whispered at the screen, then dissolved into giggles as the toys in the room laughed or groaned. They were all very familiar with — and a bit tired of — Trixie's fanfic obsession.
Bonnie stirred slightly and they all went silent and frozen again. Characters in TV and movies were almost always in love with the opposite sex. Toys seemed to have fewer concerns about gender in general, maybe because for some toys it was so vague. Like that stuffed bunny Bonnie had cuddled to her cheek. A few days after it had arrived, Bonnie had untied the bow from around its ears and made it into a bow tie around its neck, changing it from a girl to a boy. At the other end of the spectrum were toys like Barbie and Ken whose appearances were very strongly male or female. Toys like Woody and Jessie were somewhere in the middle, their bodies very similar to each other.
Late that night, after Buzz's glow had faded, they were all cuddled up in bed. Bonnie rolled over, pushing Jessie over half on top of Buzz, a floppy leg and arm draped over him, face pressed against his shoulder. Buzz bit his lip and the springs in his back creaked audibly. Buzz gripped her arm, pulling it tighter around himself and whispered, "Jessie."
The body against him twitched a little and Buzz froze in shock when a male voice whispered in his ear. "No. Sorry."
It was Woody. He'd mistaken his best friend for Jessie in the dark. He'd even been turned on by him. "Sorry," Buzz whispered back, embarrassed. But Woody didn't get off of him — either he was so comfortable with Buzz that he didn't care or he was following the rule of staying where your owner left you.
Buzz couldn't bring himself to move away from Woody either. He felt a surge of nostalgia for the early days of their friendship, when he and Woody had been so close. The two heroes among the toys, opposites but always on the same wavelength. Always with a slow, warm smile for each other, an easy understanding between the two of them, no matter what chaos was going on in Andy's room. It had been hard facing the new reality of being a toy. It had been like losing an entire life when he found out his memories were all false. But he'd gotten through it with Andy's love… and Woody's as well.
He had been a Space Ranger, the Hero of the Galaxy, and heroes in those kinds of stories always fell in love with the most beautiful woman around, didn't they? So did the courageous Sheriff. What if some part of that thinking had lingered? What if he had simply fallen for the prettiest girl around because that was what was programmed into him? What if there had been another toy he loved more and had automatically overlooked simply because he was male?
"You miss Andy, don't you?" Woody asked, sitting down suddenly beside Buzz.
Buzz looked up, surprised. He was sitting on a shelf, discreetly studying Jessie who was playing with some other toys. They were so alike in some ways, Woody and Jessie, how they moved, how they looked. He had no doubt that he cared about Jessie, but he was questioning what it was exactly that had made him feel attracted to her in the first place. He had never felt so guilty.
"What?" he asked.
"You've been moping all day. Buzz Lightyear sitting alone up here, like this." Woody imitated Buzz's posture, slouching forward with his chin in his hands, an exaggerated pout on his face.
Buzz knew then, oh he knew, who it was he'd always loved. It spread through him like an electric shock. It had been Woody, always, but Buzz had been so influenced by his false memories of Buzz the Academy playboy. When Jessie had come along, with so many of Woody's characteristics, the feelings had intensified and transfered to her. Loving Jessie fit into his preprogrammed story. Loving Woody didn't. The hero was supposed to marry the princess.
"Something's bothering you, I can tell," Woody prompted.
"Yeah," Buzz said, vaguely. "I've just… had the blues."
"I know how it is." Woody turned to watch the other toys as well. "Being separated from Andy brought back everything I felt when Bo left." He sighed. "Is it something to do with Jessie?" Woody asked.
Buzz hesitated. "Yeah."
Woody clapped him on the shoulder. "I'm sorry. Things haven't really… progressed for you two, have they?"
Buzz bowed his head.
"After Sunnyside, I sure thought they would," Woody said.
Woody sat with him for a while but didn't press him for any more of an explanation. Twice, Buzz opened his mouth to say something to Woody about his feelings, but each time he thought better of it and said nothing. Jessie looked up at them once and caught his eye, but he looked away.
"Come find me if you need anything," Woody said, standing up. He put a hand on Buzz's shoulder. "I mean it."
"I will," Buzz said.
But he just sat there, trying to work up the courage. After a while he heard footsteps behind him and turned to face Jessie.
"Woody needs you to adjust his stuffing," Jessie told him.
Out of all of the things she might have said to him right then, that was one he didn't expect. "He what… wait… what?" Buzz asked.
"It's an excuse to get you to go talk to him, silly," Jessie said, sitting down by Buzz. Seeing Buzz's confused look, she continued. "Well, if you had stuffing, you'd understand! It all slowly shifts south, what with gravity and Bonnie's hugs." She gestured toward her feet. "After a while, you need somebody to massage it all back into place for you."
"I, um," Buzz got distracted, picturing it.
Jessie leaned in and said quietly, "it'll be the perfect time to talk about how you two feel about each other."
"What?" Buzz felt a surge of panic, snapping him out of his daydream. "What do you mean?"
"He's still hurting. He needs to know someone loves him. And he needs someone to love."
Buzz stared at her. "Why not you? Don't you… love him?"
"Of course!" Jessie looked at him oddly, then smiled. "Not like that. He's my brother."
Jessie stood up, tugging Buzz to his feet. "Look. I'm tired of watching him pine for Bo and you moon over Woody. I already had this conversation with him. So just go tell him already." She pointed to the secluded spot behind the headboard.
As if in a dream, Buzz turned to go. Then he remembered Jessie and faced her again. "What about you? You're not mad at me?" Buzz rubbed the back of his head, sheepishly. "I really do care about you —"
"I know. And I love it that you do." She grasped his hand and squeezed a little. "But right now, it's Luke Skywalker and Han Solo who are going to end up together."
"And the princess?" Buzz asked.
Jessie smiled mysteriously. "Don't worry about her."
They separated, their hands lingering together for a moment.
Buzz climbed down, scanning the room. He hadn't seen Woody in a while, would he really be where Jessie said? He approached the bed and hesitated. When he looked back at Jessie, she grinned and gave him a thumbs up. As Buzz got near, Woody emerged from under the dangling edge of Bonnie's comforter, saw Buzz and froze. They stared at each other mutely for a moment. There was an unfamiliar look in Woody's eyes.
"Jessie said you need me to adjust your stuffing," Buzz said in an even tone.
"Well. She told me your wings need to be oiled," Woody said with a knowing smile.